Four Virtualisation Lessons From Domino’s Pizza

Pizza chain Domino’s is rolling out Windows Server Hyper-V to provide more effective technology management in its 4000 US stores. What lessons has it learned from the experience?

Domino’s talked up its experience as it shifts from a VMware infrastructure to a Hyper-V and System Center solution at the MMS 2013 in Las Vegas, which I’m covering as part of our ongoing World Of Servers series. Here are some of the key principles that emerged.

Virtualisation lets you cut staff numbers. Each US Domino’s location effectively has three machines on site: two physical hosts and one virtual machine image which connects into its virtualised Pulse online ordering systems. Despite having more than 4000 stores, those systems are managed by just two full-time staff members.

Global companies don’t necessarily have global tech. While Domino’s licences its brand worldwide, this particular virtualisation project is currently restricted to the US, though it does plan to use it in some overseas stores. In part, that reflects what vice president global infrastructure Lance Shinabarger described to Lifehacker as a “relatively slow” uptake of online ordering in the US compared to global markets. While one-third of orders placed in the US are made online, that figure is well above 50 per cent in Australia, for instance.

Rollouts need to be managed. While Domino’s eventually plans to use the system in all its US stores, that hasn’t happened yet. To date, 750 stores have been switched. Given the diversity of locations and the low headcount managing the project, that makes more sense than an all-stores rollout.

Reducing support calls is critical with remote virtual systems The metric Shinabarger quotes most proudly? Virtualisation-related support calls have dropped by 99 per cent since the new system was introduced.

Lifehacker’s World Of Servers sees me travelling to conferences around Australia and around the globe in search of fresh insights into how server and infrastructure deployment is changing in the cloud era. This week, I’m in Las Vegas for the Microsoft Management Summit 2013, looking for practical guidance on deploying and managing Windows servers.

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